David Fuller, Author . Hyperion $24.95 (310p) ISBN 978-1-4013-2331-8

Mystery novels, ever in need of fresh points of view, are given to strange genre hybrids like Fuller's debut novel: part investigative procedural, part narrative of American slave life. Cassius, a secretly literate slave on a Civil War–era Virginia tobacco plantation, is determined to track down whoever killed his mentor and surrogate mother, Emoline Justice, a free black woman. Making liberal use of his limited freedoms, Cassius takes to the road, playing the obvious disadvantages of life under the yoke to his favor. Along the way, he encounters slave traders, Underground Railroad conspirators, Confederate soldiers, Northern spies and a wide assortment of African-Americans, slave and free. Fuller, a screenwriter, has palpable sympathy for his African-American characters, and Cassius's encounters with other characters—like the haunted slave owner Hoke Howard—are the book's strongest parts. Unfortunately, Fuller's solid plot doesn't carry the novel through to its end, and, despite sourcing the work of historians Eugene Genovese and John Hope Franklin, the novel gives off a distinct whiff of unreality. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/14/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4561-0737-6
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Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 320 pages - 978-1-4013-9264-2
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Paperback - 310 pages - 978-1-4013-1005-9
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4013-9267-3
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